IPID launches urgent application against police chief

2017-05-26 12:47
Khomotso Phahlane (File)

Khomotso Phahlane (File)

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Johannesburg – The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has launched an urgent High Court application against the acting police commissioner, in a bid to stop any SAPS members with a personal interest in cases from investigating the police watchdog’s members.

The application was filed in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday. It is in response to the police charging two IPID officials, Mandlakayise Mahlangu and Temane Binang.

The two have been leading the investigation into corruption and money laundering charges against Acting Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

The application contains an affidavit by IPID executive director Robert McBride, who makes startling revelations about a North West detective team which is investigating Mahlangu and Binang. IPID is investigating numerous cases of torture against this team.

View the document here

It reveals that IPID’s case against Phahlane is at an advanced stage and has already been sent to the National Prosecuting Authority for prosecution.

The respondents include Phahlane, North West commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane, his deputy Major General Ntebo Jan Mabula, North West head of commercial crimes investigations Brigadier Daniel Pharasa Ncube, and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

IPID asks that the court declare it unlawful and/or unconstitutional for any SAPS member to undertake or oversee an investigation into a member of IPID, where that SAPS member has a personal interest in such investigation or is facing an IPID investigation.

It asks that Phahlane, Motswenyane, Mabula and Ncube be interdicted from undertaking or overseeing investigations against Mahlangu and Binang.

The watchdog wants the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995 and the IPID Act 1 of 2011 declared unconstitutional and invalid, to the extent that they fail to preclude SAPS members from undertaking or overseeing investigations of IPID members when they have a personal interest in such investigations or are themselves the subjects of IPID investigations.

'Hostile to IPID'

Mahlangu and Binang were served with summonses to appear in court on May 30 to face charges of fraud, conspiracy to contravene section 33(5) of the IPID Act, extortion, and contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

The charges were brought against Mahlangu, Binang, attorney Sarah Jane Trent, and forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan.

McBride said there was no reason he could see why the case against Mahlangu and Binang was transferred from Kameeldrift police station to a team of detectives, led by Mabula, in North West.

More worrying, was that IPID is investigating complaints against them.

"I point out that the inter-provincial transfer of a criminal investigation is uncommon and only permitted in special circumstances that justify the additional expenditure," McBride said.

Transfers of this nature necessarily involve either the provincial SAPS or national police commissioner.

"It thus appears that the acting national commissioner and/or Lieutenant General Motswenyane either directed and/or authorised the transfer."

McBride said the only inference that could be drawn is that the North West detective team was assigned the case because they would be responsive to the commissioner’s wishes and hostile to IPID, in view of the pre-existing investigations of them.

The team – other than Ncube and Mabula – includes Lieutenant Colonel Mqaba, Captain Molathlegi, Lieutenant Colonel Dawood and Brigadier Kgorane.

"Not only has the acting national commissioner laid charges against Mr Mahlangu and Mr Binang and not only are these charges being investigated by an apparently hand-picked team of SAPS members in another province. Rather, those hand-picked SAPS members have obvious hostility to IPID in view of the pre-existing IPID investigations against them," McBride says.

Ncube is facing an IPID investigation on charges of contempt of court.

Torture allegations

The other members of the squad have one charge of torture and murder against them, and seven other cases of assault GBH for the alleged assault and torture of suspects.

"The disturbing trend about the cases… is that it is alleged that a similar method of torture was used, which included tying victims to chairs, covering their head with plastic bags so that they could not breathe, and electrocuting them – including at times, on their genitals. The alleged offences involved the same SAPS members in most instances," McBride says.

All the implicated SAPS members were reporting to Mabula. Some witnesses alleged that Mabula was aware of the torture and even ordered further torture on some of the victims, the affidavit says.

Binang is investigating some of these cases.

McBride said the application in no way meant that IPID members should be immune from investigation or prosecution, or are above the law. He said there were more than enough police officers to ensure the case be referred to SAPS members who are not compromised in this way.

"In the financial year 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, IPID had a total of 5 519 cases reported to it regarding misconduct by SAPS officials or municipal police officials. Of these, 3 509 related to assaults, 366 deaths as a result of police action, 216 deaths in police custody, and 123 cases of corruption."

There are 200 000 SAPS officers in South Africa, which meant there were enough police officers, with no personal interest in the case, who could investigate the IPID officials.

Payments in excess of R200 000

McBride says Binang and Mahlangu found Phahlane "paid large sums of money into his bond in excess to the mandatory instalments" on his home in the Sable Hills Waterfront Estate. He made cash payments to suppliers, sometimes from plastic bags from the boot of his car.

There were further questionable transactions, McBride said.

"Amongst these were transactions with a company called Kriminalistik, a supplier of forensic equipment to the SAPS, and which is alleged to have benefitted from tender-rigging during the acting national commissioner’s tenure as the divisional head at the SAPS forensic division."

Payments in excess of R200 000 were made to Kriminalistik via EFT, McBride said.

On the evidence so far, they believed Phahlane had a serious case to answer, in "that he has used his office, authority and influence in unlawful act[s]".

McBride said he tried to have Phahlane suspended. He wrote twice to then-police minister Nathi Nhleko, informing him of the investigation and asking him to inform the president and to consider suspending Phahlane.

He wrote directly to the president, the chairperson of the police portfolio committee, and to Mbalula.

IPID’s attorney Jac Marais, of Adams & Adams, said the respondents had until Monday to indicate whether they would oppose the application or not.

View the document here

Read more on:    saps  |  ipid  |  robert mcbride  |  khomotso phahlane  |  pretoria  |  corruption  |  crime  |  police

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